MSP Faces More T In The Park Questions

6 October 2015, 07:11

Opposition MSPs have called for Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop to be brought back to a Holyrood committee to answer more questions on the £150,000 of public money handed to T in the Park.

Ms Hyslop failed to provide satisfactory answers when she appeared at the Education and Culture Committee to give evidence on the funding decision and allegations of cronyism last week, according to Labour, Liberal Democrat and Conservative members.

Lib Dem MSP Liam McArthur, Tory Liz Smith and Labour members John Pentland and Mark Griffin have written to SNP committee convener Stewart Maxwell, with a decision on recalling Ms Hyslop due to be taken today.

The Culture Secretary was asked to explain the circumstances in which the state aid was awarded after it emerged former SNP adviser Jennifer Dempsie set up meetings between the festival's promoters DF Concerts and ministers including Ms Hyslop ahead of the application for the funding.

Ms Dempsie was working on a contract for DF Concerts as a project manager on the festival, which moved to a new location at Strathallan this year.

Appearing at the Education Committee last week, Ms Hyslop said organisers had warned they could move out of Scotland unless they could address the ''severely reduced revenues'' associated with its relocation.

She insisted she had acted properly and the funding from the major events budget had been approved "following a detailed consideration of options'' for operational costs associated with the transition to the festival's new site.

Opposition committee members say questions remain over how the money was spent and what checks the Scottish Government undertook to ensure it was spent for the purpose it was given.

They also want to know whether all other revenue streams were exhausted, including from the event's key sponsor, before public money was sought and granted.

The members say further questions also remain over Ms Hyslop's knowledge of ticket sales for the event when she agreed to the funding award and when it was paid.

Mr Pentland said: "T in the Park is an iconic Scottish cultural event that has entertained millions and boosted the local economy. It's a fantastic event that we should all be rightly proud of.

"However, questions still remain unanswered about the SNP government handing #150,000 worth of taxpayer cash to the event.

"We have seen suggestions that the event would not have been viable, would have to have been a one-day event or would have to have been moved out of Scotland without public cash. None of this seems credible.''

A spokesman for Ms Hyslop said: "The Education and Culture Committee's busy remit covers a range of important issues such as school attainment and improving access to childcare - yet opposition parties seem more interested in pursuing conspiracy theories that have already been comprehensively refuted.

"Ms Hyslop has already answered questions from the opposition for well over an hour on this at the committee and stayed on until no members had any questions left to ask.

"She has also answered questions on T in the Park both in writing and in the Scottish Parliament chamber, as well as publishing over 600 pages of relevant documents.''